Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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September 14, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Knoxville start-ups need your help to raise and to rise

This year's pitchers at the annual Raising & Rising event represented a diverse group of company types, from the arts to software to kombucha.

Start-ups don’t have to make millions of dollars to be successful, they just have to make a difference.

On Thursday, seven start-up founders working to make a difference in all our lives pitched their companies during Innov865 Week’s annual Raising & Rising pitch event, held at and presented by CGI. Some of these founders are raising capital, others are just on the rise looking for connections to help them grow.

This year’s pitchers represented a diverse group of company types, from the arts to software to kombucha. Chris McAdoo, Director of Strategy and Engagement for the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, said events like Raising & Rising make a difference for the founders as well as the community members who come to hear them speak.

Deric Frost, Reelay; Jaleria Rivera, SpaceCraft; and Luke Wiseman, LOOP.

“You see that spirit of innovation, you see that willingness to challenge the script, and you see a very diverse group of people coming up,” he said. “I think that really reflects not only the present but the future of Knoxville entrepreneurship.”

Get to know the seven start-ups featured at Thursday’s event below. If you’re interested in working with them as an investor, mentor, or partner, contact information is available at each company’s website, hyperlinked below.

LOOP, Luke Wiseman – Loop offers a suite of powerful tools for K-12 school districts that help streamline stakeholder communication, automate routine tasks, and generate actionable insights that save districts money and other resources.

ZenHammer, Edwin Williams – ZenHammer was founded as a way to help local contractors and subcontractors use technology to stay on the job and out of the office.

Slideform, James Horey – Slideform is a SaaS platform that enables agencies and client-facing organizations to scale their data-driven presentations. Their software automatically incorporates key metrics from a variety of data sources into custom presentation templates. Instead of spending hours copying and pasting charts into presentations, their users can create bespoke presentations in minutes.

Reelay, Deric Frost – Reelay is an innovative software-as-a-solution (SaaS) company specializing in artificial intelligence (AI) applications. Reelay brings meetings in line with how teams work today by creating actionable Reelay Meeting Assets featuring fully searchable post-meeting videos and word-for-word transcriptions. With its intelligent platform, which seamlessly integrates across existing meeting technology stacks, Reelay is redefining the way we are meeting today.

Daesya Parker, Silver Lining Produxtions; Frog Greishaw, Frog Juice Kombucha; James Horey, Slideform; and Edwin Williams, ZenHammer.

Frog Juice Kombucha, Frog Greishaw – Frog Juice is Knoxville’s premier kombucha company. They utilize 100 percent organic, fair trade, and locally sourced (whenever possible) ingredients. Frog Juice’s store and bar, The Boocherie, is a non-alcoholic bar atmosphere for people in recovery, as well as a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community, artists of all mediums, and a place for education of often overlooked issues.

SpaceCraft, Jaleria Rivera – SpaceCraft makes space for artists to craft. The team understands that art flourishes when you give space to explore in a low-stakes and caring environment. SpaceCraft’s mission is to minimize the barriers to becoming an artist through equitable access to community, studio space, and performance opportunities.

Silver Lining Produxtions, Daesya Parker – Silver Lining Produxtions is a digital storytelling archive studio built to cultivate and hold the stories of historically marginalized and disenfranchised people. The team documents the quiet and seemingly ordinary lives of people who exist both in spite of and because of their circumstances. They highlight these experiences as proof that we have lived.

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